This post rambles around a bit, is a little ‘churchy’ and contains some ham-fisted and clumsy theology. You have been warned. 😉
There are a few times in the bible where prophets have had visions of heaven. Often these visions, or even visits, include seeing the most freakiest of creatures. Strange beasts made up with parts of earthly creatures, yet I think they might have got it backwards when they wrote, “It had a lion’s face.”.
I was listening to the Jake Hamilton’s piece, “War Drums“, where he recites a vision of heaven seen by the prophet Isaiah.
I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim, [the burning ones]; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;The whole earth is full of His glory!”
And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.(Isaiah 6:1-4)
This reminded me of other sections of the bible where heavenly creatures are written about. Ezekiel 1, verse 10 is the best example I could find.
What suddenly struck me listening to this was that when these creatures are being described, earthly frames of reference are being used. In reality though, the creatures had been in existence long before the earth. Looking at the world from God’s perspective we could easily be saying that when we see a flying creature as having the wings of a cherubim, we mean an eagle. Or when we describe a four legged animal with the face from some heavenly creature when we mean a lion.
In the letter to the Romans, St. Paul explains that what we see in nature points towards God, ie. when we look around the world around us and the sky above us, we are seeing God’s handywork. We are seeing a reflection of heaven.
It is not that earth was created first and when God saw the animals he thought, “Ah, those look good. I could use bits of those to make some really cool flying things for around here.”. Rather, let’s give these new creatures parts which look like things found in heaven. Let’s put something of Heaven on Earth.